The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File

Basnight weighs in on DOT

Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight has an idea for Governor-elect Beverly Perdue, who has pledged to reform the scandal-plagued Department of Transportation and was criticized during the campaign for her connections to DOT board members, several of whom raised money for campaign.

Basnight thinks Perdue should appoint current board member Lanny Wilson from Wilmington as Secretary of Transportation. Wilson is an attorney and developer who gave $38,800 to Democratic candidates this election cycle, including $4,000 to Perdue. He also gave $21,000 to the State Democratic Party. He is used to donating.

Wilson gave more than $175,000 to Democratic politicians from 1999-2006 and raised untold thousands more. Governor Mike Easley appointed Wilson to the N.C. Real Estate Commission. Senate President Pro Tem Basnight appointed him to the N.C. Turnpike Authority.

Wilson also has a home on exclusive Figure Eight Island and hosted a dinner there for members of the 21st Century Transportation Committee earlier this year. A group of homeowners at Figure Eight have formed a political action committee and hired lobbyists to overturn the state law that prohibits seawalls off the shore. The beach is eroding in front of some of the palatial estates on the islands. Seawalls are banned in front of beach property because they increase the erosion down the coastline.

Wilson may be a nice guy, but he is the epitome of a DOT political insider, the folks who have run the department for years and damaged its credibility with the public. Wilson is exactly the kind of guy Perdue promised not to appoint if she was serious about her plans for DOT reform.

That is some sound advice from Basnight. Maybe his next suggestion for the Governor-elect will be to bring Randy Parton back to North Carolina as Secretary of Cultural Resources.

The budget and the spending lobbies

While Perdue ponders that idea from Basnight on her vacation, the state budget picture continues to worsen and the cuts in current services ordered by Governor Mike Easley continue to hurt. The N.C. Child Care Coalition reports that Smart Start's budget has been cut by $10.5 million and the Division of Child Development now expects a $6 million reduction.

The cuts come as the demand for services increases with the economic downturn. The waiting list for child care subsidies has now grown to 38,000 children.

None of that bothers the folks on the Right of course. They continue to push for no new revenues to balance the budget next year, which would mean at least $2 billion in cuts, ten percent of the budget. 

In case you are wondering about their concern for children and families losing services, there doesn't appear to be much.  The leader of the one of Raleigh's right-wing think tanks recently warned against "the long line of spending lobbies with their hands out." 

Poor children and families struggling to find a decent place to live or to see a doctor aren't folks we should protect during tough economic times. They are just spending lobbies that should be ignored.

Public transit is welfare?

Apparently making it easier for people to get to work is also a bad idea. Another scribe on the right wanted lawmakers to know not to spend any money on public transit, like the highly successful light rail line in Charlotte.

He writes "it should go without saying that no new revenue source should contribute to public transit subsidies. To the extent that public transit has any benefits, they take the form of public assistance."

It shouldn't go without saying that he's wrong, that public transportation is not public assistance, but an effective way for everybody to get around in their communities and reduce traffic and pollution and sprawl and a whole host of other problems.

Let's hope he has the chance to ride light rail to his office one day to write more nonsense.